The ball had traveled a fair distance through the air before coming down again, and when it did rather than landing in some nice cushioning leaves or getting stuck down a rabbit hole it hit the gently sloping side of a hill. It rolled and bounced down a hollow, then hit a sharp bit of flint and went airborne again, long enough to send it flying over the winding course of a pleasantly twisty brook. Reggie found it, eventually, and when he did he stifled a curse.
It had landed on a patch of grass in a tiny clearing in the woods. A perfectly level bit of grass that was lit almost cinematically by rays of sunlight slanting down through the branches of the trees.
Neville squatted down and peered at the ball as if he were a mycologist who had just discovered a new species of mushroom. “A cleek, do you think? Or a jigger?” he asked.
Reggie had been expected to read all the same magazines as his employer. To learn all the necessary terminology, and absorb all the wisdom of golfers past. He had given the reading materials a quick look and then found something better to do. He took a stick at random from the bag and handed it over.
“A baffing wood? Interesting choice,” Neville said. “Better stand back.”
“Gotcha, boss,” Reggie said. He imagined standing back in the solarium of the house, with a pitcher of vodka tonics.
Neville lined up the shot. Then he stopped, lifted a finger to the wind. A gesture that probably availed him little. He had no spit to lick the finger that was, after all, wrapped tight in linen bandages, so his ability to gauge the wind was likely limited. Neville had always believed in doing things for the look of them, though. He lowered the finger, readjusted his stance, brought his arms back with his elbows loose. Brought the wood down in a wonderfully erratic arc.
The ball lifted into the air. Bounced off one tree, then another, and disappeared into the foliage, as expected.
For a moment the two of them simply watched it fly. Then they stared at the trees where it had been, and then they relaxed a bit.
Only to jump when they heard a distant cry of pain.
Followed on quickly with: “Halt! In the name of the law!”
The two of them froze in place.
“On second thought,” the voice bellowed, “come here! In the name of the law!”